Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Chris Tollefsen on Marc Thiessen's application of the principle of double effect

My friend, Christopher Tollefsen, is an example of how a philosopher ought to offer his arguments in the public square. He recently published a piece--"Marc Thiessen, Double Effect, and the Torturer’s Dilemma"--on the Public Discourse page of the Witherspoon Institute. Here is how it begins:
In a recent book and in a number of interviews, essays, and op-eds, Marc Thiessen has revived discussion of the tactics used by the Bush administration to obtain actionable intelligence to prevent terrorist attacks. The Christmas day arrest of Farouk Abdulmutallab confirms that this is still a live issue: ought Mr. Abdulmuttalab to have been waterboarded immediately in order to determine whether any other attacks were in the offing?

Thiessen’s defense of “enhanced interrogation tactics,” including waterboarding, has been especially striking for his reliance on the conceptual apparatus of the Catholic moral tradition. That tradition has held that the state has a duty to protect its citizens against aggression, and that in prosecuting that duty the state may use force, even lethal force.

>>>> continue reading

1 comment:

Matthew Bellisario said...

Hi Dr. Beckwith. I read this article, it was a very well written response on the subject. Do you think that if the person who is going to be interrogated is the actual person responsible for the impending attack that is going to be carried out, like a bomb going off, would change the the entire dynamic of the double effect application? For instance, if the guy that is captured actually admits that he has planted a bomb that will go off in say, 2 hours, would the law of double effect now come in to play because you are actually trying to stop the actual aggressor? In other words, a person having information about an impending attack is not the same as the actual person who is carrying it out. Thanks for the post!